Tuesday June 18, 2024


NOAA Fisheries is finalizing documents that will serve as a response to a lawsuit that resulted in the near-cancellation of Southeast Alaska’s commercial Chinook salmon fishery in Southeast Alaska in 2023.

The announcement is the latest development in an ongoing lawsuit between environmental group Wild Fish Conservancy (WFC) and the U.S. government. WFC sued NOAA Fisheries in 2020, claiming that the commercial Chinook salmon harvest and government-funded hatchery programs were taking prey needed by Southern Resident killer whales, starving them in the process. In 2021, a district court ruled in favor of WFC, finding flaws in the official documentation and that analysis was needed to allow commercial fishing operations.

The legal battle became much more alarming to Alaska salmon fishers and government officials in May 2023 when the district court vacated an incidental take statement that was a legal requirement for opening the Chinook salmon troll fishery in Southeast Alaska. With the fishery set to be canceled before it even opened, government officials appealed the ruling to the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

At the request of the state of Alaska the Ninth Circuit issued a stay allowing the commercial troll fishery to open as planned while NOAA Fisheries corrected its analysis.

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